Like the four teams surrounding them, second place City have every right to believe that the title is theirs for the taking – a confidence backed up by promising results over Christmas and New Year. However one flaw which has not up until now hindered City reared its head as the Eastlands club defeated Blackpool 1-0 at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The ball refused to pierce the back of the net. Carlos Tevez was City’s most unlikely culprit, missing a series of chances from open play before having his misery compounded by screwing a penalty wide of the impressive Richard Kingson’s right-hand post. In the end Adam Johnson’s 20-yard drive was all that separated the Premier League’s most cash rich club from a team with a £9,000 per-week wage budget. The competitive, closely-fought nature of the match is evidence enough of why the Premier League endures around the world.
City’s profligacy in front of goal explains their interest in Edin Dzeko. The rangy Bosnian centre-forward established his reputation as one of Europe’s most technically gifted target men as he forged a title-winning strike partnership with Grafite during the 2008/09 Bundesliga season with Wolfsburg. In the intervening 18 months since, he has continued scoring at the rate of a goal every other game, alerting the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs. None of his potential suitors have the capacity to match any offer Manchester City are capable of mustering, making the Blues the favourites to secure his signature.
His potential arrival points towards a possible tactical rethink by Roberto Mancini, who has been criticised for his perceived conservatism this season. Some City fans still call for him to revert to what they see as a more attacking 4-4-2 shape, an option which Dzeko would give the team in partnering Carlos Tevez in attack. Why Mancini would want to do that when his midfield trident has recently enabled Yaya Toure to break the lines impressively between midfield and attack, offering real goalscoring threat, and has also brought the best out of the silky David Silva and Adam Johnson is another issue altogether. Although City only scored once against Blackpool, it was not a result of their conservatism. Their football has evolved since the start of the season. Mancini’s team is no longer a negative one.
Should there be arrivals in January, they would have to be offset by departures for City already have filled their 25-man squad quota for the season. Throughout the season the futures of Shay Given, Joleon Lescott, Roque Santa Cruz and Emanuel Adebayor have been clouded. Indeed as Dzeko is pursued by City, the Daily Telegraph reports that Aston Villa are ready to end Emanuel Adebayor’s year of torment at the City of Manchester Stadium. A busy January will give City impetus as they expect to challenge for the Premier League title.